Quilt Sugar Cookies for Pam

I recently said goodbye to Pam, a dear friend of mine, who I’ve mentioned many times on my blog. In the eulogy at her memorial service, I spoke of the time where she had made my sugar cookie recipe with 1/4 cup of salt instead of 1/4 teaspoon. You would expect the dough to be ruined, but we decided to bake it and ice it anyway. It turned out to be complex in flavor and a wonderful balance when paired with the royal icing.

To keep this memory alive, I decided to make sugar cookies for her reception that reflected her love of primitive quilts. As I was searching my blog, I found that I had deleted the plugin that was used to create the recipe — the recipe was gone. The site where I had gotten the recipe from changed the original ingredient quantities and of course, I had thrown away the paper printout from many years ago. Recalling the moment that Pam made the salty batch, I searched my old emails and there it was — my recipe for sugar cookies, sent to Pam —the only sugar cookie recipe that I sent via email.

Even in heaven, Pam is still doing good work.

Primitive Quilt Cookies

Pam loved making primitive quilts. Primitive quilts are identified by their muted colors, basic shapes, use of scrap materials (like old clothing or wool sweaters) and imagery that look like child had drawn them. While this may sound pretty basic, when put together, a primitive quilt can look quite intricate.

Everything about a primitive quilt was “so Pam.” She had a way of turning something basic or nearly-discarded into to something beautiful. At any given moment, she would have a pile of old shirts, curtains or fabric sitting on the island in her studio. These would eventually get pieced out and turned into bags, toys, appliqués and obviously, quilts.

Even in the way she did things, she found potential in what would be considered simple. The first time I’ve ever traveled with her was for a convention in Buffalo, NY. One morning, while enjoying the complimentary continental breakfast, we discussed our lunch plans and came to the realization that everything around us could potentially be lunch. We took some rolls, hard-boiled eggs, packets of mayo, relish, salt, pepper and apples to bring back to our room. We had egg-salad sandwiches and apples for lunch and were even able to fit in a nap between convention sessions.

During that same trip, we encountered a farmers market during one of our breaks. We found some artisan bread, cheese, and salami. We also came upon a wine shop where we sampled some wines and bought a bottle of Zinfandel. It was one of my favorite evenings spent with her. Charcuterie, wine and great conversation about our families, faith, and fun ideas filled our night until our eyes got heavy.

Every time I buy a bottle of Zinfandel, I think of that precious time we spent together.

The Crow

I had digitized Pam’s business logo so that she could make labels for her quilts and small fabric tags for her smaller projects. One thing that struck me was her use of a crow for the logo.

During Pam’s memorial reception, her friend, Barb, asked if I knew the meaning behind the crow that Pam used for her logo and in her quilts (and decor). While I didn’t have a solid answer I relayed the synopsis of the following video:

Everything about the crow shouted Pam: Methodical, persistent, always willing to learn, and a great problem-solver.

As for the star hanging by a thread from the crow’s mouth, I recalled a story about a young girl who kept feeding the crows in her yard and in return, the crows would bring her random trinkets — even dropping them at her feet. I’d like to think that star represented a gift created by Pam’s hands.

Time Heals

Pam’s friends from her quilting community took a few of her quilts to cut and finish hearts to give out to the attendees of her memorial service in both Minnesota and in California.

It hurts to lose a good friend so suddenly. Even through suffering and sadness, God has planted a way to find beauty: Beauty in memories, beauty in lessons learned, and beauty in the time spent with others that at the time, may have seemed like a typical encounter. With time, these memories will transform from the pain of missing her to a deep fondness and appreciation that God has given us this time with her.

I was surprised at how often I mentioned her in my blog. At the same time, she was so much a part of my adult life. While some posts were not particularly about her, just the mention of her name showed how much her friendship meant to me. Here are the posts where I’ve mentioned her:

I sorely miss Pam and I’m thankful for what she was in my life and in my family’s lives.

Sugar Cookies

A sturdy sugar cookie dough great for making cutout cookies, sliced cookies and sugar cookie pops.

Course Dessert
Keyword cookies, sugar cookies
Prep Time 8 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Resting / Cutout Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 53 minutes
Servings 36 3-inch cookies

Ingredients

  • 3-1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 lb Unsalted Butter at room temperature (1/2 lb butter = 16 tbsp or 2 sticks)
  • 1-1/2 cups Granulated Sugar
  • 2 Large eggs at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 tsp Vanilla extract

Instructions

Dough Prep

  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, salt, and baking powder and set aside.

  2. In the bowl of the stand mixer fixed with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy. Scrape the bowl as needed.

  3. Add eggs to the butter/sugar mixture, one at a time until incorporated followed by the vanilla extract.

  4. Set the stand mixer to its lowest setting and slowly add the flour mixture until just incorporated (do not overmix).

  5. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Refrigerate dough for at least one hour.

  6. Alternatively, for sliced cookies, you may form the sugar cookies into a log, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour before slicing.

Cutting and Baking

  1. Take out the refrigerated dough and roll out to 1/4 inch. Cut out cookies with a cookie cutter. If you are making sliced cookies, slice logs into 1/4 inch slices.

  2. Line a few baking sheets with parchment or a silicone mat. Space the cookies about 1-1/2 to 2 inches apart. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for at least 10 minutes to prevent spreading.

  3. While cookies are in the freezer preheat the oven to 375°F with the rack set in the middle

  4. Bake cookies, one sheet at a time for 12-15 minutes until edges are golden brown.

  5. Once baked, allow the cookie to sit on the sheet for 5 minutes then transfer them to a cooling rack.

  6. Ice cookies with Royal Icing

Royal Icing

A hard-drying icing perfect for sugar cookies.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Author Melissa Hiatt

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of confectioners’ sugar “powdered” or “icing” sugar
  • 3 tbsp meringue powder
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla or almond extract
  • 1/2-3/4 cup warm water
  • Food coloring – I lean towards gel pastes for a more intense color

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the meringue powder and confectioners sugar until combined.
  2. Add 1/3 cup of water and beat on medium until stiff and glossy.
  3. Add extract.
  4. Slowly add water approximately 1 tbsp at a time until you reach the desired consistency (see notes below), scraping the bowl until all the sugar is combined. Remember, it’s easier to add more water than take it away, so be careful not to add too much!

Recipe Notes

To check the desired desired consistency, run a knife 1-inch below the icing surface and pull it through the icing. The icing should come together and smooth out within 7-10 seconds for the perfect consistency for piping and flooding. If it takes longer than 10 seconds, add a little more water, one tablespoon at a time.
While in use, keep the icing covered with a damp towel to prevent it from drying out or place it in a sealed container.